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Monday 13 October 2014

‘Red Winter’ by Dan Smith

Published by Orion,
3 July 2014.  I
SBN: 978-1409128199

Russia, 1920.  Nicolai and his brother Alek have returned to their village from the war between the White and Red armies.  Nicolai is longing to be with his family again, but his house is empty – and, he discovers, the whole village has been deserted.  He sets out on a quest to find his wife and sons, following the death squad led by the mysterious killer known as Koschei the Deathless...

This descriptive thriller evokes the horrors of a war-torn country, and the feelings of a man who set out with the zeal of a revolutionary, but now realises the part he has played in creating this desolation.  All through his journey he finds destruction, starvation, betrayal.  Nicolai is a sympatheitc character in his love for his family, his bond with his horse, his gentleness with the orphan girl who comes into his care.  Other characters are well drawn: the mad Galina, the enigmatic Tanya and Lyudmilya, the Commandant who has been ordered to abandon his wounded soldiers to die in the snow.  The violence committed by Koschei is extreme but plausible in this winter landscape, which is beautifully evoked.  The plot moves briskly along, with a gripping climax.

A haunting read.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

Dan Smith. Growing up, Dan Smith followed his parents across the world to Africa, Asia and South America. Now living in Newcastle with his family, his writing is still inspired by all corners of the globe. His debut novel Dry Season won critical acclaim and an array of prize nominations, including a shortlisting for the Author's Club Best First Novel Award.

 Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

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